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How to survive burnout (literally) with Jules Turner

Luke Szyrmer October 27, 2020 48

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Anybody can burn out. Listen to Jules’ story about how burnout almost cost him his life, and what his takeaways are from the whole experience.

About Jules Turner

As a highly demanding job led him to burn out, Jules fell ill with Guillain Barre Syndrome which left him paralyzed and in intensive care for 80 days.  Following that he spent four months in a rehabilitation unti to relearn how to use his hands and carry out basic tasks such as feeding himself as well as being able to stand and walk. 
In his role as an executive coach, Jules now helps individuals to combat the devastating impact of burnout.  Jules’ biggest motivator in life is to help others to reach their own potential and create a life they love without burning out along the way.   Enabling them to break through the barriers they  encountered and to achieve incredible outcomes for themselves.  He has experienced first hand how the power of the mind and having a focus can reap many rewards.

Find out more at https://www.julesturner.co.uk or request a booklet on the signs of burnout from Jules on LinkedIn.


I remember it quite clearly, I was in and out of consciousness, one memory that I did have was very early on was actually waking up in my bed in a corridor, being wheeled somewhere, but having the awareness that I just couldn’t move anything and also not being able to speak, but hearing my wife talking, my mind is talking.

I’m actually saying I can’t talk. I can’t communicate yet. My brain was still very functional. They had to intubate me because my diaphragm had stopped working. So they had to put me on a breathing machine. And then they were bringing me back from X-ray because I needed to check that the tubes were in my lungs. I woke up and had this realisation that I just couldn’t move muscle. I just stuck. I couldn’t talk. I could hear and I could see, but I just couldn’t talk.

The nurse somehow must have seen what was going on and just said, Look, Jules, are you scared because you don’t have to be scared because you’ll get through this.

And I thought at that time, I thought, if she’s saying to me, I’m going to get through it, then I’m going to make a damn good effort to make it happen. You are listening to the online remotely podcast, the show dedicated to helping lead distributor teams under difficult circumstances. I’m the host Look Sharp and I’ve participated in a run distributed teams for almost a decade. As a practitioner, I’m speaking with experts on leadership, strategic alignment and work to help you navigate the issues start facing after you get.

You’re welcome back. Today, we’re focusing on the flip side of performance, and particularly when it’s managed in an unhealthy way. So we’re speaking with Jewelz Turner, who’s a high and executive coach specializing in burnout, and he works mostly with finance and tech professionals. And I actually knew him from previous life of mine. And in the episode, we cover what the signs are leading up to burnout, what it’s like to be on a breathing machine. I mean, similar to what people might get if you have a bad case of covid.

And what mindset gave Jules the power to recover from his run in with burnout. Right. Let’s get on with the show. Jules Turner, welcome to the Aligner Remotely podcast. Can you tell us a little bit about your story and how how you got into the work that you do? Yeah, first of all, thanks for inviting me on is a great pleasure to be able to talk today. I am Jules Turner and I. I help senior professionals who are heading towards burnout to reinvent their lives.

The reason behind it is because back in 2014, I went through burnout, which quite dramatically almost cost me my life.

I went through a dreadful illness and it was then that I had this realisation that I had a purpose. There was a reason for me going through the drama that I was going through at the time. The eventual outcome of that is what I do today.

What was the situation leading up to the burnout?

When I was heading towards my own burn, I was getting distracted by all sorts of things the financial worries, worries at work, whether that the pressures and the role that I was in at the time, whether I was doing a good job for my clients, all of those things were building up.

Eventually that was causing me to lose sleep. Of losing sleep can also have its own manifestations, both mentally and physically. You’re very exhausted that there’s a whole build up. It’s those obvious everyday signs that we take for granted that can be a sign of the very fact that we’re starting to roll towards that burnout situation.

The signs that led up to the. Illness other than losing sleep. Are there any others that you think, in retrospect, how important were they? Are there before you you got this illness or.

Oh, yes. Yes, I would say that it’s there. The slow burn. Of course, if you find that things are changing in your character, for example, normally I’m quite a calm person. And at that time there would be times when I’d get really angry. And in the office, for example, I had an explosion one day. And it’s something that that I wouldn’t have done in the office. And it was just purely because of the build up of pressure.

Your workmates know you for who you are. And then when you have this outburst, if you like, people are quite taken aback by the whole event, that whole experience. You’re trying to hold that sort of pressure in. But there’s a valve that suddenly has to be released and it gets released at the wrong point.

And and all hell breaks loose because you’ve tried to hold the anger in, will not talk to somebody about it or been able to been able to talk to somebody about it, for example, being able to communicate. How is your level of communication with others? Are you closing yourself off? Are you stopping yourself? Are you holding things back when you articulate are people understanding what you’re saying? Are you being able to articulate the truth? That’s your truth and feeling free and confident about talking about it nine times out of ten in this situation, you’re holding this stuff in and you’re not really being honest with yourself.

So all of that bubble is just being held back.

The stress and the pressure can build up anyway.

For me, eventually it got to, you know, being physically low, mentally low. And of course, this comes out in many ways, in a lot of people. For me, I had my illness, which was an autoimmune condition, which was a complete paralysis and being locked in, not being able to talk, not being able to do anything for myself, being in an intensive care unit for 80 days on life support and nearly dying three times, that’s as dramatic as it gets.

But the the signs were already there from probably. And even as far back as two years before, but we’re aware that we think that we can address them and handle them.

Was it gradual or was it just suddenly the ambulance came in, you were in the hospital.

The actual event itself was quite quite sudden. The build up was very gradual. I had flu like symptoms. I thought I’ve got flu probably about two or three weeks before I was a fit guy. The previous year, I actually cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats. I had been a triathlete for many years. I was very aware of my body. But two or three weeks before all this happened, I’d had flu and I thought I’d get over it and I was thinking I was getting over it, but it felt like I couldn’t quite operate on all cylinders.

On a Wednesday, I was feeling a little bit.

Tired and achy, and I had this feeling of pins and needles in my fingers and my toes to begin with, I was ignoring it. And then over a five day period, it was a Wednesday.

And on the Thursday, I couldn’t go into work. So I’m feeling so exhausted and unnerved by the Saturday, this feeling was running up my legs and my arms. And by the Sunday evening, I was admitted to hospital. And by the Sunday evening I completely lost power in my legs. And on the Monday evening, I was admitted to intensive care. So as a kind of a five day period of going downhill quite rapidly.

So it was like a. Like pins and needles feeling initially, and then it just spread to the whole body. Yeah, exactly. That’s probably the best way of describing it, to be honest.

And then when you ended up there, you were conscious the whole time around. You remember that period?

I remember it quite clearly. I was in and out of consciousness.

One memory that I did have was very early on was actually waking up in my bed in a corridor, being wheeled somewhere, but having the awareness that I just couldn’t move anything and also not being able to speak, but hearing my wife talking, my mind is talking. I’m actually saying I can’t talk. I can’t communicate yet. My brain was still very functional. They had to intubate me because my diaphragm had stopped working. So they had to put me on a breathing machine.

And then they were bringing me back from X-ray because I needed to check that the tubes were in my lungs. I woke up and had this realization that I just couldn’t move muscle. I just stuck. I couldn’t talk. I could hear and I could see, but I just couldn’t talk. The nurse somehow must have seen what was going on and just said, Look, Jules, are you scared because you don’t have to be scared because you’ll get through this.

And I thought at that time, I thought if she’s saying to me, I’m going to get through it, then I’m going to make a damn good effort to make it happen. Going back to the Land’s and John O’Groats trip that I did the year before, I use that as an analogy. Thinking, okay, if I’m going to get through this, I’m going to use it as a user experience to help me to get through it lands and John O’Groats is a tough ride and you go downhill.

So I thought, I’ll be doing Lands and John O’Groats and coming back and going back up again and come back. In my mind, I was using that as an analogy to help me to move along in my journey to recover from.

When did you realize what was going on, they try to explain it to you at that particular point? I knew that there was something very serious I didn’t know until a little while afterwards the impact at that time.

The very first I thought I had was, is this going to be it for the rest of my life? When you think about it, you’re lying dead. Still, you can’t move anything. You’re trying to move your arms and your legs and nothing’s working. Bearing in mind that I was in my early 50s and my jeans, my mum’s 99 in a couple of weeks time. I’ve got my mum’s genes. I’m going to be living for another 50 years, almost.

You start thinking about the people around you and how that’s going to impact them as much as how it’s going to impact me, because they’ve got to be there to look after me. There’s going to be a whole host of new things having to take place if this was going to be the thing that I was going to have to live with for the rest of my life. But when and my nurse said to me, you’ll get through this. It triggered something in my head.

OK. You’re telling me that I’m going to get through it. I’m going to make a damn good effort to get through it. And it’s at that point, you start thinking, OK, so what is it that I need to do? To make this recovery occur, though, your mindset starts to really think about. The future and what it is that you want from the future, so you start to develop this desire. I knew that I wanted to get out of hospital and then further down the line, I thought, I’m going to walk out of hospital.

And that’s that’s that’s what I did. I was completely paralyzed, but it’s the mind that matters. And if I had that desire to do something, then I knew that’s something that was going to happen. We didn’t know when it was going to happen, but we knew that it was going to happen.

From a point where you’re paralyzed to where you’re walking. That sounds like it’s quite a big chasm. How did you do that? Other than the mental aspect?

Obviously, you have a choice, okay? The choices you either live or die. The easiest way is to say, okay, I’ll switch off the hardest choices to say I’m going to carry on and live. That’s a really hard choice. OK, taking the option to live. Then you start to think about, OK, how am I going to do this? I need the help, obviously, that the help of the medical profession and the hospital and the nurses and the doctors, the physios, they are part of your.

Tools to recover. I’m strong believer of the fact that. In order for you to do something more to recover from a situation like this, 75 percent of the responsibility of that recovery is yours and 25 percent of that recovery is the help that you’ve got around you now. Right from the very first part of the journey, people were helping me to recover. But. It was my own. Desire my own thoughts. That was also helping me to recover, but also breaking everything down into the very small chunks is incredibly important.

Even down to hourly physiotherapy is a very important part of this recovery process. Of course, the drugs that are keeping me alive and all the other bits and pieces that are there to support me, physiotherapy is there as well. But the idea that you have to participate in the physiotherapy in the very beginning, because my lungs weren’t working, I had a lot of congestion. They had to. Pump my lungs to get rid of all the congestion in my lungs.

I had pneumonia many times, they actually physically have to lean on you, press you really hard. And of course, that is quite painful. So you have to be acutely prepared to go through that event. Physiotherapists are going to bounce up and down on your lungs to get rid of that going on your lungs. You know, that is going to hurt you because they’re putting all of their weight on you. And so you have to be prepared for that event.

It steps forward to when you’re starting to recover more. Getting out onto the side of the bed. And because you’ve been in bed and because you’re paralyzed, you’ve got no control over your muscles, so you have to put your trust in them to hold you up because they’re helping you to start to engage again. You have to be part of that process. You have to engage in that process to recover. It’s not just them that’s doing it for you.

It’s you that’s doing it. That’s vitally important to know that, and it’s like when we go through this, when I go through my coaching program with people, it’s. My client’s responsibility to do the work. To help them to get to where they want to be, I’m there to help them to facilitate that process. Opening up, helping them to become more aware of things and it’s exactly the same sort of thing, really is in in being in hospital, you are the you’re the client.

You’re having to do the work.

But gradually you’ll see the results, you’ll see things change and you’ll see the the impact of your own hard work and how that’s having a positive effect in getting you to where you want to be. Hi there, this is Luke, and just for a quick bit of back story, this podcast is part of my process to create a book called A Line Remotely, which will cover roughly the same topics as we have on the podcast, if you’d like a free advance copy of the book.

I’d be more than happy to give you one. Just to be clear, it’s totally free. There’s eight chapters as of today available for presell and people are buying it right now. And this offer will go away as soon as the book is fully launched. My main request is that you leave a review of the podcast using rate this podcast dot com slash a line remotely. It’s designed to work on your phone, but you can do it at your desk, too, and then forward me a screenshot of that to customer success at a line remotely dotcom.

And I’ll hook you right up. Just take a quick break rate this podcast dot com slash align remotely and get your free copy.

Now, just to look back to. That. Process, so you how was it when you actually left that return to the return home of the return home?

Yeah. How was that? How did that work?

Actually, what happened there was that we had set a date of 17th of October 2014. That was my discharge date from rehabilitation. The process was I was in intensive care for eight nights and then I was then sent to rehab to start to get you to become slightly more independent. Two weeks before that departure date, I wasn’t walking. I wasn’t able to get up. And then eventually, suddenly. Things were happening. Actually, the departure date was brought forward because of my rapid progress from starting to stand to get into actually taking those really small, difficult steps.

Of course, I was in a wheelchair, but every opportunity I had to stand up or try and walk, I would take that opportunity. In answer to your question, how was it walking over? That threshold was awesome.

When I was in hospital, when I was in intensive care, I had the idea that I was going to walk.

Out of the hospital. On the 10th of October 2014, I did it. And I knew that I could do it. I didn’t know at the time, at the very beginning how it was going to do it because it looked impossible, but I knew that it was possible. I just had to put the work in. Now, walking and moving through that threshold was the start of another journey, because then I had to start to live at home and we lived in a townhouse, which was two stories up now when I had occupational therapists talking to me and they said, you’re going to have to live on the ground floor.

My bedroom was two floors up and I thought, I am going to be going up those stairs. So from the point of when I started to stand to when I moved, walked through the threshold or over the threshold of the hospital. We worked very hard on walking up and down stairs so that when I went home, I could do it. Walking over that first threshold was the next part of my journey of my recovery. Getting home, of course, my wife and family had to manage the situation as it was at that particular point in time.

But it’s as much about your desire, you want to be back to normal and you want to get better. You want to have a normal active life. And the only way you’re going to do that is to do the work. Was there a particular moment where. You had that sense that you’ve achieved it, or was it just a gradual. Reacquisition of everything you were able to do before, and I’d say, look, that it’s work in progress.

Even now, I’m here and I’ve come a long way and I’ve discovered a hell of a lot about myself this year, I’ve left corporate, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while because I wanted to create my own business, because I know that I know that I have a purpose in order to help people going back to the burnout situation. And people avoid burnout so that they don’t go they don’t need to go through that sort of thing that I went through and that their their progress is far more rapid than mine was because I had to go through an illness in order for me to get myself to this point.

But I know that I’m still a work in progress.

How are you defining burnout when you work with. Burnout is really a buildup of. Things are going back to the signs. There are signs that that might be being magnified towards burnout. And in the olden days when I first went and worked in corporate, there was a lot of people burning out because they were living life on the edge to the full. They got to the point where they just couldn’t do anything. Anymore, their lives have come to a complete halt.

They were tired, they were both physically and mentally exhausted. It’s no different now to what it was. But what we’re experiencing now is more. Where people become. Il. That is the very thing that will potentially define that you’ve got to that point where you’re completely burnt out because you’ve become ill. And we’re not just talking about the type of illness that I had. We’re talking about think cancer, mental breakdown, physical and mental breakdown. Is that brick wall.

I was talking to somebody a few weeks ago about their experience of burnout, where they got up one morning and they just couldn’t go to work. They physically, mentally just couldn’t face getting on the train and going to work. We’re all individual and it happens in many different ways. So is it. Depending on how sensitive people are to their own kind of, let’s say, signals of burnout, physically and mentally, a lot of people and especially men, this is a very important point, is that especially men, we deny the situation.

I did. I thought I could carry on. And in fact, what was happening for me is I was taking on more because of the incredible pressure that was on me from a financial perspective. I needed some more money. First of all, I was trying to look for another job. But at the time, weirdly enough, because I didn’t have a degree, I couldn’t get another job. And yet I was so experienced in the work that I was doing, which is quite bizarre.

But that’s beside the point. What tends to happen is that. We hold it in and we deny the fact that anything is happening. That’s what happens in a lot of people. There are some people that will potentially acknowledge what’s happening and do something about it. But I think a lot of people, especially financial technology, the financial services industry, people driven by making money and their lifestyle, and they feel that they have to go on that.

In a lot of people, the potential is it’s a sign of weakness. It’s not a sign of weakness. It is a very real thing and needs to be addressed prior to it happening. The other thing is, also is a lot of us. Have a desire to do something different. We have a dream, we have dreams that that may be boyhood dreams or dreams that we’ve had when we were youngsters, things that we’ve always wanted to do but never done it because we have to do this job to create a lifestyle that is funded.

And we don’t step off that hamster wheel. We don’t have the ability to stop it. Take that step back. And. Going in a different direction. There are certain people that do that, and they are they’re really happy. But for most. It’s a big risk and there’s all this fear, but the reality is that once you take action and responsibility, things will move for you. So I guess really going back to that question, the idea of people sensitive to it.

Yep, people. Deny it, hold it and put it to one side, and that’s when the dangers. That was an incredible story and experience that Jules went through, and I think my biggest takeaway is that it’s not really even accurate to think about burnout as an endurance or strength thing, that basically it’s denial that kind of underlies a lot of it. And, you know, the stakes are quite high because if you don’t really pay attention, you can destroy yourself.

Being aware of those signals and trying to head it off before it happens is actually the best way of dealing with it. Tune in next time and will continue on with the second part of the interview with Jules. Thanks for listening to this episode of the online remotely podcast, if you enjoy the show, please leave a review on iTunes, Google podcast or wherever you get your podcast.

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